The two leading varieties of winter traction devices are Yaktrax and Microspikes. Over the last couple of years, I’ve tried a variety of options, so I’d like to give my review on both the Yaktrax and Microspike and when to consider each one.
Yaktrax and Microspike Comparison
|Spike Size||9.5 mm||1.2 mm|
|Material||Stainless Steel||Steel Alloy|
Why Do You Need Traction Devices?
If you are hiking in the winter, it’s essential to have a traction device to attach to your boots. The most famous traction device is the Crampon, which is used mainly for ice climbing. Crampons are large metal spikes that latch onto your boots and help you climb walls of ice.
For less extreme situations, there are miniature versions of this available. The most common alternatives are Yaktrax and Microspikes. These are traction devices that you strap onto your hiking boots to improve your traction over snow and ice.
Features of Yaktrax
- They come with a long-lasting rubber frame
- Each pair can be safely worn in temperatures that reach -41 degrees F
- They’re great for wearing on streets, sidewalks, and certain hiking trails
Features of Microspikes
- These will give you great traction and grip in any icy environment
- They come with stainless steel spikes that are up to ⅜ inch long
- Most options come with a 2-year warranty
Similarities Between Yaktrax and Microspikes
Yaktrax and Microspikes are similar because they are both traction devices that attach to your hiking boots and allow you to navigate icy terrain with relative ease. Both of these devices are constructed with thick rubber bands, lightweight chains, and steel spikes on the bottom.
The spikes dig into the snow and ice, and give you traction, just like cleats give athletes better traction on the athletic field.
Differences Between Yaktrax and Microspikes
Despite similarities between the products, there are differences as well.
Microspikes are more expensive than Yaktrax, and many people feel that they are of higher quality as well. Microspikes are made of stainless steel spikes and Yaktrax have steel alloy coils. Stainless steel is considered to be stronger than steel alloy.
Microspikes are also seen as more durable than Yaktrax are. Microspikes are an investment that will last you for years if taken care of properly.
Yaktrax are cheaper because they are made of lower quality material that can break easily. If you’re interested in traveling on rough terrain and hiking trails, Yaktrax spikes might be too fragile for that case.
3. Overall Design
Both of these devices will help you with your wintertime outdoor activities, but they are designed for different purposes. Microspikes are intended to be used for hiking and climbing in icy conditions. Yaktrax will also help you with these activities, but they are intended for traveling on flat roads and trails.
Which is Better For You – Yaktrax or Microspikes?
Are Microspikes a better investment than Yaktrax? That depends on what you’re planning to do with them, and on what your level of physical activity is.
You should choose Yaktrax if:
- You only need slightly more traction
- A budget-friendly option is what you’re looking for
- Lightweight materials are important to you
Yaktrax are inexpensive and a great choice for beginners. They are also good if you are planning to spend most of your time road running or hiking on relatively flat trails.
You should choose Microspikes if:
- A more expensive option is fine
- You need heavy duty traction
- Durability is important to you
Microspikes are a great investment for serious hikers and climbers and are much more helpful when it comes to hiking hills and mountains in wintery conditions.
Yaktrax are better than nothing at all when it comes to winter hiking, but they are less than ideal. Yaktrax are meant to be worn on snow that is packed down, and they become increasingly useless when you’re not traveling on packed snow.
These are essential hiking gear to have in your pack year-round, not just during the winter. Even relatively “small” mountain systems, such as the White Mountains of New Hampshire, are infamous for their inhospitable conditions.
Both the Microspikes and Yaktrax have their place among hikers, it just depends on the terrain and intensity that you’ll be using them!